Magic Moments: Ryan Austin’s Top 5 Inspirations for Happily Ever After
by Happily Ever After co-director Ryan Austin
There are too many delightful and memorable Disney movie moments to even begin to rank, but here are the top five that inspired The Hideout Theatre’s latest mainstage, Happily Ever After: Improvised Disney Musicals!
5. Agrabah Merchant
This opening narration is so fun and brings the audience into the world immediately. This was something we wanted to translate to our show to help start the audience on the journey. After the crowd suggests a starting location, the hosts (myself and co-director Roy Janik) light a lantern and set it on the stage. One performer walks out into the environment suggested by the audience, picks up the lantern and joyfully addresses the crowd — setting up the tone and world we’re about to see. It’s my favorite sequence to watch!
4. Tangled’s Complex Relationship
I loved the complicated relationship that existed between Rapunzel and Mother Gothel in Tangled. Rapunzel didn’t see that her “mother” was lying about who she was until later in the film. We wanted to make sure we honored the complicated relationships we sometimes find ourselves in. We always looked back to this story when we felt ourselves not playing as honest as we were shooting for.
3. Love at First Sight
Even though Eric is a little confused in this scene, there’s something in his heart that knows Ariel is special. The hopeless romantic element is a big part of these films and our show. Disney embraces the magical and lets us to hope for something optimistic and romantic. I know that not everyone cares for this side of Disney, but it’s a major part of the genre the same way saving the world is a part of superhero stories. Plus, the show is called Happily Ever After!
2. Beast’s Death
It’s so sad! But there are sad and dark moments in life that Disney does not shy away from showing. Granted, most of the characters who die return to life somehow, but Belle doesn’t know that’s going to happen, so we hurt for her. We made sure not to avoid the sad or scary moments in our show. But those moments will pass and make way for a happy outcome!
1. Aladdin Meets Genie
You can just tell that Robin Williams is having a blast in the recording booth playing the Genie. He’s breaking so many rules by referencing celebrities and characters that wouldn’t have existed in that time period! It’s very much akin to the playful nature of improv and how — just like Robin Williams in this scene — you end up having so much fun that a few rules get tossed out the window. I wanted to create an environment where the players felt comfortable to do that. We’re not trying to make people forget they’re watching improv. We want them to see how much fun this is!
I could go on, but those are my favorite moments that inspired the direction of Happily Ever After. It opens THIS SATURDAY at 8pm and runs every Saturday until August 29th! The tickets are going fast so be sure to grab yours quick! See you there!